Alexander Ivanov, 58, was “one of the good guys."
That's the word from friends of the late Fairfax resident, who is being remembered this week as the man who lost his life in a Nov. 30 fire at his home on Meadow Way in Cascade Canyon.
The Marin County Coroner's Office has yet to identify the charred body found in the ashes and debris of a fire that tore through the cabin where he lived at the end of a long dirt driveway. One friend said, "Word travels fast. He was one of the nicest guys you’d ever met. We’ve been sitting around telling Alex stories."
But that friend, who knew Ivanov for about 20 years, and sponsored his Sausalito Yacht Club membership several years ago, declined to be named in this story after Marin County Fire officials revealed this week that the likely cause of the fire was the diversion of electricity for a marijuana-growing operation on the property.
Marin County Fire Marshal Scott Alber said Tuesday that the fire was likely caused by an illegal power tap that was disturbed by the wind and the rain from last week's storms. The electricity was being diverted from the home to a small shed containing a number of marijuana plants and six 1,000-watt grow lamps.
Alber emphasized that the fire remains under investigation until his department receives more info from the coroner's office from its own investigation.
"We can't eliminate some other potential sources of the ignition, such as some kerosene heaters in the house or a wood-burning stove," Alber said.
The body found in the small cabin at 40 Meadow Way was burned beyond recognition, according to Marin County Sheriff Department Lt. Keith Boyd, spokesman for the coroner's division.
“In cases relating to fire and burning, identification is a very trying and time consuming process. It’s going to take some time,” Boyd said. "It could be days, it could be a few months."
Though Ivanov has yet to be identified as the person killed in the fire, many who knew him were mourning his loss. His mother, Katherine Ivanov, who recently passed away, is listed as the owner of 40 Meadow Way in county property records.
Ivanov lived in the cabin that was destroyed in the blaze for about 30 years, friends said. Ivanov was starting a new chapter of his life fixing it up, they said.
Ivanov was a black and white photographer who had a small darkroom at the Industrial Center Building in Sausalito, and ran a printing business. When artist Cindy Miracle moved into the ICB almost 20 years ago, she had a small studio next to Ivanov's darkroom.
"He was my first friend in the building," she said. "He used to let me store all my extra stuff in his space when I did my open studio."
Ivanov was also a member of the Marin Rod and Gun Club and worked in the still lab at Industrial Light & Magic creating books and catalogs, particularly for Star Wars. He also had a great love for the outdoors, friends said.
Friends said Ivanov loved visiting the hot springs on the south side of Stinson Beach at low tide, or taking his kayak out to Red Rock. And they had many great times going fishing together.
Another friend, William Gargan, said Ivanov and a group of people used to go target shooting together.
“Alex was a very nice guy,” Gargan said. “A very kind, generous, unassuming guy; quite gregarious and fun to be with. We will miss him dearly.”
Ivanov is believed to have a sister, Raisa Snow, who lives in Southern California. Her name was also on the property record for 40 Meadow. Katherine Ivanov was living with Snow in the months before she passed away. Alex Ivanov was married but separated from his wife for about 10 years, and had no children, friends said. He was always doing something interesting, and was always up for an adventure.
"I don't think I have ever known anyone who could spread more positive joyous energy," Miracle said. "He will be sorely missed. The world needs more people like him."